The Man Behind The Succulent Chinese Meal That Demonstrates Democracy Manifest
Purveyors of succulent Chinese meals, rejoice. For the man behind the (in)famous "democracy manifest" video has been found alive and well - and he's not a Hungarian chess master, but a humble painter from Queensland.
And it turns out the memorable arrest, which took place in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley about three decades ago, was covered by none other than veteran journalist Chris Reason.
If you are thoroughly confused, then please pretend this article never happened.
But if you know your judo well, read on.
A refresher: the video is an old news clip showing the arrest of a grey-haired gentleman, apparently outside a restaurant.
As a crowd of police bundle the man into a waiting car, he declaims, in a stage-voice that would put Olivier to shame: "Gentlemen, this is democracy manifest!"
More memorable phrases follow: "What is the charge? Eating a meal? A succulent Chinese meal?"
And most scandalously of all: "Get your hands off my penis!"
No wonder the clip, first uploaded to YouTube 13 years ago, went viral.
The identity of the man under arrest had long been a mystery. Some declared him to be Paul Charles Dozsa, a Hungarian émigré and chess player who racked up over 190 convictions for "dining and dashing" at restaurants across Australia.
But Dozsa died in 2003. And now that story can be put to bed, because the real Mr Democracy Manifest has come forth.
How he resurfaced is not clear. His first outing seems to be a video posted on popular Australian meme page Brown Cardigan in 2020.
That clip shows an older man with a striking resemblance and an identical voice to the star of the beloved original.
'Succulent Chinese meals aren't cheap'
Fast forward to three years ago, when the same older man exploded onto the internet.
Australian punk band The Chats published a promotional video for their tour featuring the older gentleman and recreating the famous arrest.
Then came a website, announcing that he had returned: "Jack is still with us. Jack will tell his story … his name is not Paul Charles Dozsa, he was not a chess grandmaster and he is most definitely still alive."
These tantalising hints go no further. But the curious are invited to get in touch – for a price: "Would you like to book an interview with Mr Democracy Manifest himself? You can contact Jack's agent with your details and offer. Succulent Chinese meals aren't cheap."
That’s not the only attempt to monetise him: the website advertises a range of merchandise emblazoned with the famous quotes.
One way or another, it didn't take long to get him in front of a camera for an interview. Sitting down with Sportsbet, he confirms he is the man in the clip and recounts the day of his arrest, when his tranquil lunch was rudely interrupted.
"There’s all TV cameras. Channel Seven, Channel Nine, whatever," he says. "They’ve surrounded the place and come arrested me."
An archival news package then plays, from soon after the arrest.
"When Cecil George Edwards was arrested in a town mall last Friday, the [Fortitude] Valley police thought they’d caught Queensland’s most wanted," Reason reported.
"Instead he was a petty criminal working under several aliases ... a conman with a flair for acting.
"Only hours after his arrest, the watch house granted him bail, leaving the police red faced and empty handed."
Mr Manifest gives a wry chuckle before explaining just why he deployed his famous bons mots: "I wanted them to think I was … a lunatic so they’d send me to a lunatic asylum so I could escape from there. Anyway I’ve done my time."
As many questions as answers, perhaps. But one thing is clear: Mr Democracy Manifest/Jack/Cecil is back, and he’s getting down to business.
"I’ve started to do some paintings of that arrest. Painted by the hand of this victim of democracy," he says.
"Hope I can get a quid out of it. Why starve?"